By André Withoutalastname
Friday morning bore many similarities to those of the rest of the week - dull and grey with the sun's rise obscured by a layer of clouds releasing intermittent rain. After a solid, uninterrupted sleep, Axver woke at about ten to seven, late by his usual standards. Considered weird by most for his early waking time, he noticed that the time was later than six thirty and felt that the day was already somewhat wasted. Little was he aware of the great wasteful expanse of time that lay before him.
After wiping sleep from his eyes, flinging his bedspread away ungracefully, and finding his feet, he staggered over to the computer. Axver was very reluctant to spend time outside, partly because of his albinism but mainly because of the allure of his computer and the magical world opened up to him by his high speed Internet connection. A bit of a nerd for rock band U2 and fond of frequent political and theological debates, Axver relied on the Internet for much of his human interaction, and he was alarmed to notice a flickering light on his modem when he sat at the computer that morning. Under normal circumstances, the PPP light was a solid and soothing yellow, but now, it was flickering frantically, and when Axver activated his screen, his worst fears were confirmed. AIM had presented an error, informing him that it could not connect to the server, and neither bit torrent left running overnight was functioning. With a sense of urgency, Axver loaded the main screen for his modem and saw two words that were to haunt him for the day: incorrect configuration. He loaded the appropriate screen, entered the correct settings, and returned to the status page, only to watch the modem attempt to connect and then return the same error. Repeatedly, he re-entered the settings, only to watch the connection fail to establish. Deciding that the network must have been affected by poor weather, he turned his modem off to cycle it and went to read to pass the time.
The minutes dragged. Every second seemed to pass in horrendously slow motion. Even though Axver was interested in the subject matter of his book, he simply could not enjoy it. The reality of his dependence upon the Internet was apparent, but he didn't consider it a serious concern. Finally, a decent length of time had passed, so Axver returned to his computer, switched the modem on, and watched the various lights go through the connection routine while keeping an eye on the status page. He almost refused to believe the reality when the PPP light continued to incessantly flicker and 'incorrect configuration' once again appeared on his screen.
Impatient for his connection to return and rather curious to know why it currently wasn't functioning, Axver decided to contact Internode, his ISP. That, in itself, was a mission. All correspondence with Internode was conducted online and he had failed to note down the support number. Luckily, he found an old e-mail that he had saved and quickly dialled the number. As he expected, he was placed directly on hold, but other users had lavished glowing praise upon Internode's support number's efficiency, so he did not feel frustrated. His bother with being on hold was allayed even further when a voice informed him he was first in the queue, and as he expected, his call was soon answered by a real human being.
"Are there any known problems in the Gold Coast region of Queensland?" Axver enquired after pleasantries and giving the required details.
"None that I am aware of," replied the technical support official.
Axver became worried. His paranoid mind instantly created multiple horrible scenarios in his head to explain the bizarre drop-out of his Internet: his modem was wrecked, his line had somehow lost DSL capability, his computer had a virus that stopped him from successfully connecting. He attempted not to show this concern to the official and they worked to discover the source of the fault and re-establish the connection.
Ten minutes later, there had been no luck.
"There have been problems nationwide and we will have to ask Telstra to check and possibly reset your line," informed the operator. Telstra was the national telecommunications company that ran a virtual monopoly over the communications network. Every other ISP had to deal with them.
"How long might that take?" Axver asked nervously.
"Usually twenty-four to forty-eight hours." Axver only just managed not to gasp and release a couple of profanities. "It's sometimes shorter, and could also be longer due to the present volume of traffic."
The call soon came to an end and Axver slumped down, disheartened and depressed, not sure of what to do with himself. His mind turned to his usual Internet activities and what he had to do. He needed to speak to someone on AIM. He needed to read, post comments, and spam LJ - otherwise known as LiveJournal, God's greatest inanimate gift to mankind. He needed to check on the latest U2 concerts available for download via bit torrent and see if any tour news had been announced. Such 'needs' filled his mind and though he tried to read to pass the time, his concentration kept waning.
Finally, he gave up. Axver placed his book back on his bedside table, found a phone number, grabbed the phone again, and dialled the number. Some butterflies appeared in the stomach when the line began ringing, and then to his shock, it went to an answer phone. He wasn't ready for this. I don't know what message to leave! I hate answer machines! he thought, and for that reason, he swiftly killed the line and looked back at his computer.
The PPP light was solid.
Axver's heart leapt for joy. It just about skipped a beat when the status page noted that a connection had been established. Just as he was about to pump the air with joy, he noticed the bit torrents had not begun to work again. Nervously, he attempted to start AIM. It didn't connect. Websites would not load. MSN wouldn't work. Baffled, he phoned support again and found himself back at his position of first in the queue.
This time, first in the queue meant nothing. Axver waited ... and waited ... and waited. After half an hour, his call was finally answered, and after various attempted solutions, everything looked just as horrible as it did before. Indeed, it felt worse. Axver had done all kinds of things to his modem and desperately hoped the support official knew what he was recommending and hadn't just caused the death of the modem.
Totally despairing, Axver returned to his book, but his inability to focus soon drove him back to the phone. This time, he was in luck. Finally, something that day connected properly and he was able to enjoy an hour rather than feel completely separated from most that he held dear and enjoyed. It was easily the best hour of the day and he cherished every single second of it.
Tomorrow: Axver ventures to Brisbane.